Day 7: Rouen, Versailles, Paris

Today we left the hotel around 8:45 am and took a quick tour of the historic district of Rouen. We visited the Rouen Cathedral (which had four bombs dropped on it during World War II) and a church dedicated to Joan of Arc. The Rouen Cathedral was the cathedral that Monet painted every day, from the same perspective. He would paint the cathedral at different times of the day and in different weather. After the cathedral, we were getting tired of listening to the tour guide so instead we picked up small rocks off the ground and slowly put them into people’s pockets one at a time without them noticing. Nothing is more satisfying than having someone reach their hand in the pocket and have it be full of pebbles with no clue how they got there. Bonus points if they were French.

For lunch, we had a huge pot of mussels at a seafood restaurant in Rouen’s center. After Rouen, we quickly visited Versailles by walking through the gardens and palace with a tour guide. The palace had a reflection pond that was designed to be wider at one end than the other to compensate for the perspective illusion. We also walked through the hall of mirrors, which overlooks the garden. Versailles was built with the hall of mirrors facing west so that when the sun sets, the light reflects off the reflection pond, bounces off the mirrors, and lights up the whole hallway. The hall of mirrors was also the place where England signed the Treaty of Paris, resulting in the end of the revolutionary war. It was pretty cool to walk through the hall where our nation was founded. We also got to see the fountains working. The fountains were designed in the 16th century and uses gravity to create enough pressure to make the fountain work.

After Versailles, we took the bus to Paris and dropped our things off at the hotel. We then gave Colonel Young and Dr. Touya gifts to show our appreciation for their help during the trip: a wine holder and a rugby ball. Colonel Young and Dr. Touya took us out for dinner at Café Procope, the oldest café in Paris. It was built in 1686 and has served such famous people such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Voltaire. We had a magnificent meal (I ordered chicken in a sesame sauce and crème brûlée). There was no shortage of alcohol and I think everyone had a great time, trying each other’s meals and enjoying our last night in Paris. The five bottles of wine made for an interesting ride on the metro back to the hotel (full of singing and laughing), but no matter how much someone tries to convince me, I’m never going to try cognac again.